Marxist Theory Featured

This article by Alan Woods was originally written in 1989 to commemorate 200 years of the Great French Revolution, with a new introduction by the author. Alan Woods explains the internal dynamics of the revolution and above all the role played by the masses.

In this in depth article Alan Woods looks at the specific historical role of Napoleon Bonaparte. He looks into the characteristics of this man that fitted the needs of the reactionary bourgeoisie as it attempted to consolidate its grip on French society and sweep to one side the most revolutionary elements who had played a key role in guaranteeing the victory of the revolution.

This article by Alan Woods looks at how the French Revolution affected British poets. It struck Britain like a thunderbolt affecting all layers of society and this was reflected in its artists and writers.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is considered by many as the greatest musician of all time. He was revolutionary in more senses than one. One of his main achievements was in the field of opera. Before Mozart, opera was seen as an art form exclusively for the upper classes. This was true not only of those who went to see it, but also of its dramatis personae - the characters who were shown on the stage, and especially the protagonists. With The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro in its original Italian title), all this changes. This is the story of a servant who stands up to his boss and outwits his master.

Despite his confused politics, Lenin had a great respect for the Russian anarchist Kropotkin, particularly as the author of the book about the Great French Revolution. He pointed out that Kropotkin had been the first to look at the French Revolution through the eyes of a researcher, to focus the attention on the plebeian masses, and to continually underline the role and meaning of the craftsmen, the workers and other representatives of the working people during the French Revolution.

The Russian Revolution ushered in a flowering of creative expression in all the arts, but particularly cinema, which was advanced to new heights by the likes of Dziga Vertov and Sergei Eisenstein, who regarded film as a weapon of class struggle. Despite being cut short by the Stalinist degeneration of the regime, the legacy of October in the field of filmmaking continues to be felt to this day.

Defenders of the free market look towards libertarians such as Hayek and Mises – and their assertion of an ‘economic calculation problem’ – in order to attack socialism. But in truth, Marxists answered these reactionary arguments long ago.

On 9 April, a group called Stand With Ukraine held a small demonstration in London. Despite receiving support from a number of trade unions, only a few hundred people took part. In true Orwellian fashion, this so-called anti-war solidarity demonstration was filled with hair-raising, warmongering rhetoric. Slogans included: “arm, arm, arm Ukraine!”, and participants were reportedly inviting NATO to “call Putin’s bluff”, i.e. to launch a full-blown military intervention and spark World War III.

This article was produced several months ago by our Italian comrades of Sinistra, Classe, Rivoluzione in response to a polemic by Francesco Ricci concerning the counter-revolutionary demonstration in Cuba last year, which he supported. Ricci’s organisation (the PDAC) inherits the tradition of Nahuel Moreno, a leader of the Argentine Trotskyist movement who historically swung back and forth between ultra leftism and opportunism.

102 years ago, British workers struck in solidarity with the Russian Revolution. Conditions were ripe for revolution, though the opportunity was missed. Rob Sewell explains the revolutionary potential displayed by the working class in Britain, the errors of their leadership, and the lessons of these experiences for the class struggle today, at a time when war, crisis and chaos are similarly rampant. This article first appeared in issue 30 of In Defence of Marxism, the theoretical magazine of the International Marxist Tendency. Click here to subscribe and get the latest issue.

We publish here a document written in 2016 by the leadership of the IMT as part of a discussion about the role of imperialism today and the character of China and Russia. We think it can serve to clarify questions that have been raised in relation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a speech to the Russian nation yesterday, claimed that "Ukraine was created by Lenin." The truth is that the October Revolution had the great merit of liberating the nationalities that had been oppressed by Tsarist Russia, which Lenin called a "prison of the nations", and denied all rights to ethnic minorities. We present this letter from Lenin, written in 1919, which develops in a few pages the position of Marxism on the question of nationalities. Let Lenin speak!

50 years ago, on Sunday 30 January 1972, the British Army opened fire on a peaceful civil rights march in Derry in the North of Ireland. 14 innocent people were killed in an atrocity. For decades, the British ruling class attempted to cover up the atrocity. When British troops were sent into Ireland in 1969, some mistakenly believed they were there to bring peace.